Update on Joe & the Paralympics

Joe is supposed to be competing today in his last Banked Slalom before the Paralympics. Unfortunately, he's not. But let's back up a little bit. 

There’s nothing like a change of plans that reminds out of how not in control we are and how we take things for granted.

So those engagement photos, right?! Incredible! I couldn’t have been happier with how those turned out (Thanks, Hope!). We had so much fun, despite the cold. And we were just excited to be together and snuggle up in the cold. It looks like everything is great in those photos, and for the most part it was. But there was a lot going on behind the scenes.

As Joe said to me, he feels like he hit a brick wall going full speed.

Not even 48 hours after our engagement photos, Joe was on crutches. Again. He has a bursa sac (it's basically a blister underneath the skin) at the bottom of his stump that's also resting on a nerve and it continues to fill up with fluid, despite having it drained multiple times. Just before this trip to Canada, he was told he needed another surgery.

Definitely not the news we wanted to hear.

Joe’s been through so much. We’ve been through so much. I will never say I understand what Joe’s going through, because I'm not an amputee and I will never understand to the full extent what he's going through. But being by his side through this journey, I at least have somewhat of an understanding of what can happen and what emotions amputees can go through.

One minute your riding down a jump throwing and landing a back flip like it’s no big deal, and the next, you can’t even walk. 

It would be so hard for me to sit here and say that I am always strong and I am always able to get through this, but the reality is, I’m not. I get frustrated. I get angry. I wonder why these things happen to an amazing person like Joe, who all he wants in this life is to excel and do what he loves. Yet has it constantly stripped away from him.

I could sit here and ask, why him? Why can’t he catch a break? Why can’t it just go easily for once? There are people out there with two perfectly good legs and they don’t even use them, and yet here is Joe, and all he wants to do is walk and some days he can’t even do that.

We take so much for granted in our lives.

We’ll be going along and everything’s going great, and we’ll forget what it’s like to get knocked down. What it’s like to be on crutches. What it’s like to have to have somebody do everything for you. And it’s humbling how quickly you’re reminded that anything and everything can be taken from you at any point. And while I know we will get thru this, as we always do, it doesn’t make these moments here and now any easier.

The hardest part is feeling like there’s nothing I can do. I have no quick fixes.

So here we are in Canada. 

This whole season, we've been really unsure whether Joe would make it to the Paralympics or not. His category is the largest, with some tough competition. And this is his first year. He's only been training for this for about 4 months.

Just after the new year, he found out that there was potential for him to snag one of the last spots on the US Paralympic Team, but it all depended on how he did in Canada. He's been working his butt off for weeks for this. Training on the slopes every morning; spending every afternoon in the gym or training at Woodward. And it was just after finding out he still had a chance to make it on the team, that he formed this bursa sac. 

I know Joe won't like that I say this, but it's the truth: he's in a lot of pain. He really shouldn't even be riding. But he is. On Monday, he trained on the Border Cross Course, and on Tuesday, he competed in the last World Cup to qualify for the Paralympics in Border Cross. For being injured and needing surgery, he completely rocked it. He made 15th in the World and qualified for the second round, only to be beaten by Canadian Alex Massey, who went on to win the silver medal for the day, by two board lengths. To do that on an injured stump, I'd say that's pretty freaking awesome. 

Unfortunately, he's paying for it. As soon as he got home that afternoon, he couldn't walk. His stump has been swollen since and he's not able to walk regularly in his socket. He won't be competing in the Banked Slalom Course today like he originally planned, and basically this means that at this point, any chance of getting to the Paralympics is slim to none. 

He may not say it out loud, and I may not agree with it at all, but he's disappointed. Disappointed in himself; in his leg; in this situation that he had absolutely no control over, whatsoever. He's handling it like a champ though. His spirits are up, and he's doing well, but I know it's not easy for him. He would give anything to be out there on the slopes with those guys, and today, it's just not in the cards. It breaks my heart.

The good news in all of this? He's still so young. He's one of the younger and newer riders on the Paralympic circuit. He now has four years to get himself healthy, train and kick ass before the next winter Olympics in 2022. And I cannot WAIT to see how well he does, because I just know he is going to do great things.

This is absolutely his passion, and I love seeing the person this experience has made him. He has grown up so much these past few months and has worked so hard. I couldn't be prouder of him. 

A huge, HUGE thank you to the coaches and managers of Adaptive Action Sports, Daniel & Bryant, for being incredible along this journey. They have been amazing through this and so helpful and supportive as Joe is figuring out this new part of his journey.

From here, Joe will get healthy, continue to train and work for the 2022 Paralympics, and I know he is just going to kill it. So stay tuned, because this is just the beginning.
 


For more about Joe's story, check out these blogs or Joe's website. 

Road Trip!

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This past week I've been a little MIA on all Social Mediums, and that's because Joe and I were making our way across the country on a Road Trip! As most of you know, Joe is moving out to Colorado for 6 months to pursue a career in professional snowboarding. It's such an amazing opportunity for him and I couldn't be more proud of excited. Even though I'm going to miss him like crazy. 

The past week we drove from Virginia to New Orleans to Corpus Christi to Roswell to Littleton and finally to our destination, Silverthorne, Colorado. It was quite the adventure, we saw and experienced so much over the past week, it's hard to recap everything other than with photos. But I am going to give you some of my tips for a road trip that helped get us through.

PODCASTS  |  Oh my gosh, we would have never made it through without good podcasts. We started with Homecoming, then moved to Limetown, and got through season 1 and half of season 2 of The Black Tapes. All three podcasts were awesome and I highly recommend. Previously, I've listened to Serial and S Town, so if you liked those, you'll love these. It made the drive go by so quickly and kept us awake. 

PACK SNACKS  |  We packed a nice bag of snacks for the road and lots of bottled water so we wouldn't have to stop as much. I chose trail mixes, protein bars, pretzels, and my favorite road trip snack: dill pickle flavored sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are great because they take time to eat, aren't a ton of calories and keep you occupied and awake. 

KEEP THE GAS TANK FULL |  If you're driving over any of those Midwest states, you'll have plenty of roads that go on forever and you don't see anyone or anything else out there. Some times we went hours without seeing anything, so every time we saw a gas station, we stopped and filled up. 

TAKE PHOTOS & STOP FOR COOL THINGS | We stopped at a few random places we saw along the way and any scenic stops for two reasons: one, its nice to get out of the car; and two, who knows when you'll come back to that same place again? If you don't do it then, when will you?

LANDSCAPES ARE COOL | One of the coolest/craziest things Joe and I found interesting was how different each landscape was. We went from our usual Virginia to the mountains of southwest VA to just trees after trees of what looks like Virginia but is really Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Then finally got to the swamps, bayous and cities of the dead of Louisiana, then to the plains of Texas to the dessert of New Mexico then back to beautiful snow capped mountains of Colorado. It's crazy how much it changes. See photos below!

10-12 HOURS IS A GOOD AMOUNT OF DRIVING TIME | Day 1 we were really ambitious and drove 16+ hours straight from Fredericksburg to New Orleans. It was doable, but it was really pushing it. We didn't get to NOLA until 2am. It seemed to take for-e-ver and by midnight we were going crazy. Every other travel day was between 8 and 12 hours and that seemed to be the perfect distance. Just long enough to be in the car, enough time for a few good stops, and 10-12 hours gets you to a different state typically, so you felt like you were moving.

BE GOOFY & RELAX | Don't take the trip too seriously! Have a tentative itinerary, but also be flexible to change things up in case you decide to stop somewhere extra or do something different. This was a little bit harder for my type A personality, but it was fun to just kind of go with the flow for a few days. 

PHOTO JOURNAL

DAY 1 | VIRGINIA TO NEW ORLEANS

with a stop at the Natural Bridge in Lexington, VA

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DAY 2 | NEW ORLEANS

 the crepe cart in the french market

the crepe cart in the french market

 gluten free crepes!

gluten free crepes!

 the cathedral

the cathedral

 charbroiled oysters at legacy

charbroiled oysters at legacy

 bourbon street

bourbon street

 found the ruby slippers! 

found the ruby slippers! 

DAY 3 | NEW ORLEANS, LA TO CORPUS CHRISTI, TX

with a quick stop at the Buckner Mansion from American Horror Story: Coven

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DAY 4 | CORPUS CHRISTI, TX

we stayed with joe's buddy, hank, while in corpus who owns a cool food truck, munchies, & restaurant, the exchange

 breakfast by the marina

breakfast by the marina

 beautiful beaches

beautiful beaches

 gluten free burger at padre island burger company - it was incredible!

gluten free burger at padre island burger company - it was incredible!

 joa & i at the munchies bus

joa & i at the munchies bus

 joe & hank at the munchies bus

joe & hank at the munchies bus

DAY 5 | CORPUS CHRISTI, TX TO ROSWELL, NM

 sunset over the desert

sunset over the desert

 desert

desert

DAY 6 | ROSWELL, NM TOURS TO THE GARDEN OF THE GODS TO LITTLETON, CO

 international ufo museum

international ufo museum

 they took over the dominos!

they took over the dominos!

 joe with a cheesy exhibit

joe with a cheesy exhibit

 exhibit at the ufo museum 

exhibit at the ufo museum 

 drive through the desert

drive through the desert

 me at the garden of the gods

me at the garden of the gods

 garden of the gods

garden of the gods

 garden of the gods

garden of the gods

DAY 7 | LAST DAY! LITTLETON, CO TO SILVERTHORNE, CO 

with a stop at the loveland pass

 joe and i at the loveland pass

joe and i at the loveland pass

 the loveland pass

the loveland pass

 the loveland pass

the loveland pass

MEANWHILE IN VIRGINIA...

grohl got to hang out with aunt tessa and all his buds all week, i think he's having a good time

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Passion & Perspective

Friday was Joe and I's 'Negative One Year Anniversary.' Which basically just means that one year from Friday is when we are getting married! Hooray! I can't believe it. We celebrated by having a date night, making some wedding plans and having some great conversation about our future adventures, particularly his snowboarding.

I would be lying if I said that being okay with Joe moving to Colorado to be a pro snowboarder was an easy decision for me. I mean of course I want him to be happy and I want to support him no matter what, but there was a lot of doubt about what that meant for us and our relationship. 

As a creative and small business owner, I have to say I'm almost embarrassed by how long it took me to come around to understand this next part. I spent years working at desk jobs that I hated where I felt like I was suffocating (read more about this journey here) just trying to get out. It even took me a while to convince myself to run my own business after people told me it would never work. Now, every day I get up, I sit at my own desk in my office in my home, work for myself and chase after my dream of being a creative. It's incredible and more than I ever dreamed it could be.

And a big reason I am able to do this year after year is because of Joe. He has supported me in every way possible: emotionally, physically, financially, etc. He lets me cry on his shoulder when something goes wrong, complain and rant about emails, assemble invitations and gift boxes, and picks up where I can't on those slower months. If he can help, he's right there, no questions asked. 

So why did it take me so long to understand that the way he feels about snowboarding is the way I feel about my business? To support him not just verbally because I felt like I should but also emotionally and with my whole heart?

For a long time, I was selfishly worried about how it affected me. What it meant for my life and my business. I'm not really a fan of change. I like things the way I like them. 

At some point, Joe started talking more about how snowboarding made him feel. How excited he got when he put his board on, turned his music up, and hit the snow first thing in the morning; how he felt at home on the snow and like that was where he was meant to be; and how amazing it felt when he landed a new trick or technical riding style. It's the same way I feel when I send off a new design I've been tirelessly working on to a client and they come feeling just as excited as I am about it.

I am not a snowboarder. I can make my way down the mountain (hooray falling leaf!), but after one day and a ride or two down a green slope, I'm good for like a year. Hand me the spiked hot cocoa and I'm good to go in the lodge. I just didn't get it and didn't allow myself to see it from another perspective.

When I finally realized that the way he felt about snowboarding was the way I felt about my business, it was like something just clicked in my head. I totally got it. I understood how he felt and was able to support him completely, not just go thru the motions. And when I pointed it out to him, he did too. Despite the fact that our passions are incredibly different, we were able to understand each other better by relating with how we felt. 

Sometimes we get so stuck in our own ways and in our heads that it can be hard for us to understand where others come from. Just because someone is different from us, doesn't make them wrong. And it doesn't make us right. It just means that we all find passion in different things.

Finding your passion isn't always an easy road. Sometimes we find it on our own, and sometimes it finds us. It comes in all different ways. No one's passions are the same because it's not just what we do, but also the heart behind it. It comes from our own experiences and how we relate to others using those experiences. 

If you haven't found yours yet, don't stop looking! It doesn't matter how old you are or where you are in life, it's never too late. And if you have, don't let it go! You can absolutely make it happen! 

Happy Monday, ya'll! 

Having a Routine

I can't lie, it's been a rough weekend.

As most of you now, Joe headed out to New Zealand for his first World Cup on Friday to start his professional snowboarding adventures. And while I was ready and I {mentally} knew what was going to be happening, it hit me a lot harder emotionally than I had anticipated. This is the farthest and longest we'll be apart from each other in our relationship. And while I know it'll get better and he'll be back before I know, I think part of the reason it's so hard for me is because I'm not a fan of change.

Like...at all.

I'm a creature of habit. And this isn't just a trip to New Zealand; this is the start of a whole new career and life path for Joe. He might be back in two weeks, but he leaves again soon after that to move to Colorado for the winter season to train and compete. 

Luckily, I'm a creature of habit and weekday routines are my jam! I've scheduled myself activities every evening, have a full work schedule and am excited to get back into a routine for the week to keep myself busy. When I first started working for myself, getting into a routine was the first thing I did. And I mean that both for work and play. 

If you don't set yourself up on a schedule, you'll get behind and burn yourself out quicker than you'll give yourself a chance to succeed. 

Set Up A Schedule  |  The first thing I did when I was full-time on my own, was get up early. I kept my routine of waking up, hitting the gym, and being at my desk by 9am. This gave me something to wake up for and go to bed for. Otherwise it would be like college all over again where I would lay in bed watching TV and surfing Facebook until 2am for no particular reason.

And I bet you're also wondering...do I get dressed or do I wear PJs? Actually, it's kind of neither. I groom myself every day (shower, brush my hair, wash my face, etc.). I almost always wear mascara because it just makes me feel pretty. If I have a meeting, I'll style my hair, if not, it's usually just in a little bun so it's out of my face. And I have a 'work active wear' meaning, I have nicer yoga pants and comfy tops that I wear so I look put together, yet I'm super comfy for working from home.

The Fragile Work/Life Balance  | The next thing I did was set myself a schedule of office hours. And this part was almost more crucial. It's so easy to say YES to everything, especially when you first get started. You want to get your name out there, meet people, and be involved. And you absolutely should! But also know your limits. Don't burn yourself out in the first month or so by bending over backwards for every single friend, vendor and client. Know your limits and know when to say no; or at least be a strict about when you take another client meetings. 

I used to take client meetings all day, every day. And I still make some concessions. But you have to remember you are a REAL BUSINESS. And it's okay to enforce your business hours...that's why you have them! Clients wouldn't ask to meet their hair stylist or their banker after hours, would they? If you take yourself seriously, so will your client. And even if you do fudge your hours from time to time, be sure to mention that it isn't a common thing. 'My office hours are technically only until 5pm, but I'll make an exception for this!'

Set the limits  |  Setting precedent and limits for communication helps let the client know what they can expect. It's along the same lines of giving out your cell phone or answering emails after hours. I have an office phone, so I don't give out my cell phone anymore. I answer the office phone and return phone calls during business hours, and don't give clients my cell phone to have access to me 24/7. If I do answer emails after hours, I boomerang them to go out the next morning so people don't know I'm working all hours of the night because it doesn't happen often. I need my time off in the evenings to spend with my fiance and friends. I'm only human! I need time away from my business. If I kept answering emails and phone calls at all hours of the day, it would never end and I would be 'on-call' all of the time. 

Take Time For You  |  Now that I've worked from home for a few years, I've definitely learned to LOVE working from home and working by myself. So much so that I keep at least one day (if not two!) a week free of meetings or commitments so I can have an entire day at home to crank stuff out. I am definitely a home body, so it's nice to have time to just work from home, organize myself and get design projects done without being on someone else's schedule. 


The bottom line for all of this though, is that you need to figure out a routine that works best for you! If you're a night person, than adjust it to fit that! Figure out when you're most productive time of the day is, and play into it. Every person is different, this is just what works best for me. 

 

 

The Last of the Last Adventures Life Update

Well, I know that Wednesday is supposed to be 'Wedding Wednesday' and I promise to keep more with that in the future, but I can't talk about our wedding plans without updating our story. 

If you've been around on the blog for a while, you'll know the term 'Last Adventures.' If not, I'll catch you up a bit. Long story short, my fiance (eek! still crazy to say!) had his left foot amputated due to a rare joint disease. To keep our friends and family updated, we started a Facebook Page to keep them updated on not just his progress and surgery, but also a bucket list we created of things to do with his left foot before his amputation. We called it the 'Last Adventures of Joe's Left Foot.' Hence, the term, 'Last Adventures' is my blog category for all of the different parts of the story. Well, Joe's story went viral and was featured all over the world on different news avenues (see what I mean here) and it's been a really amazing opportunity for him. Not to mention, some really cool documentation on it.  

In case you want to get the full story, check out this video made by our church, Lifepoint. 

At first, I tried to keep up with everything on the blog. But to be honest, I kind of stopped talking about it because it all became so natural. It's just a part of our daily lives, and it's second nature to us now that we don't really even think twice about it. So now it's been over a year since my last, real update. 

Well, this summer has been three years since Joe's amputation, and to say he's doing great would be an understatement. While the first two years were a little rough with his additional surgeries, he is now pain free and running, playing rugby, snowboarding, wake boarding, everything you can imagine. Looking back at past blogs, we have come such a long way. It hasn't always been easy, but it's definitely been worth it. 

Our big news is that this coming 2017-2018 Winter, Joe is making a run for the 2018 Paralympics in Snowboarding! Crazy, right? He's always had a passion for snowboarding and and he's amazing at it, and that hasn't changed at all since his amputation.

This past winter, Joe had the chance to ride with an Adaptive Snowboard Team in Copper Mountain, Colorado. While there, the manager and trainer told Joe that he was at the Paralympic level and invited him to join the team.

Well, he's going for it! And I couldn't be prouder.

Joe will be moving out to Copper Mountain, Colorado for the winter season to train (Don't worry! I'm staying in Fredericksburg!) and will be traveling all over the world over the next few months competing in World Cups. The ultimate goal is to qualify for the Paralympics in March in South Korea.

So from here, we are asking for your prayers, support, and encouragement for Joe (and myself!) as we start on this amazing, yet somewhat scary adventure. We are so excited but it is going to be a crazy few months!

We'd love to have ya'll follow along on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rightfootedjoe/ as he will be posting to keep everyone up to date. 

Joe started a RallyMe page as well to help raise funds for this adventure. Please don't take sharing the link the wrong way, we don't expect anything, but I wanted to include it in case anyone felt led to help support his dream: https://ussa.rallyme.com/rallies/8033/rightfootedjoe

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your continued support over the past few years. We wouldn't be here without it. It means so much to us. We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to be excited about, (especially the wedding!) and can't wait to see where life takes us! 


Missed some of the earlier blogs?

We got you covered! Get caught up with these other posts about our adventures:

Where Do I Begin?  |  How We Got Through This  |  Snowboarding

Medical Jargon   |  Publicity  |  It's Over (Chicago Surgery)

Lieutenant Dan! You Got New Legs!  

Or View it all with the Last Adventures Category.